Aug 2, 2016

THE SALES CALL


A sales call is that part of the marketing mix used to achieve a specific pre-planned, return sales objective. As much effort, care, thought, planning and strategy should go into this part of the marketing mix as goes into advertising, packaging, promotion, and rest of the tools and weapons of marketing.

A sales call is usually 18-20 min face to face opportunity/ interview between a sales person and decision maker. The successful sales person knows that the meeting is an opportunity for the customer to improve his situation through the benefits of the offered product. This, in turn, represents an opportunity for the sales person to earn a reward for helping the customer.

The sales call is the most important event in selling. The sales call is 50% of the sale. Quality sales calls are precious to the super sales person, and these appointments are well treated. Consequently, making quality sales calls is the heart of the selling.

A QUALITY SALES CALL IS:


Pre qualified

With decision makers

A pre arranged appointment

With return objective

Pre planned

Practiced

Completed with a commitment

Follow up

These factors are the essential ingredients of a quality sales call.

PRE-QUALIFIED:

There are often several factors to determine in qualifying the target account and target decision maker. These include: able to provide a good benefit solution for the customer.

The immediate and long term value and volume the account and the competitive selling environment. And so on.

CALL ON DECISION MAKERS:

This is critical and obvious. Yet, a recent study by a major publishing company shows that eight out of ten sales calls are not made on decision makers! One can quibble with this finding as it is often necessary to call on people who can influence the decision maker, but it is instructive. Often sales people sub consciously choose to call on non decision makers because it lessens the possibility of rejection.

Be sure to call on people who make the purchase decision.

PRE-ARRANGED APPOINTMENT:



Always set up an appointment with the decision maker. Do not make face to face cold calls. True decision makers are too busy to deal with interrupt cold callers. By setting up an appointment the customer has one or some idea of your objective and he knows it is unequivocally a sales call. Because both of you know it is business- like a sales call you can disperse with the unnecessary chitchat and get to the point.

SPECIFIC WRITTEN OBJECTIVE:


The objective of every sales call is to close the sale or get a commitment to an action that leads directly to a close. The written objective has to address whatever commitment is necessary to make the sale. The simple act of writing your objective can increase your close rate by 20%.

PRE-PLANNED:



Always pre-plan every sales call. Unplanned sales calls are failed sales calls almost 12-15 times more often than planned calls.

PRACTICED:

If the greatest professional sportsman practice, if well reputed surgeon practice, if CEO of an organization practices, then sales people must practice.

Therefore, the above tips are main ingredients of a quality Sales Call and must remember and follow these tips in each and every sales call. I am sure this habits/practices increases motivates and drive the sales growth towards its goal by increasing self confidence level of a sales person. So, Practice, Practice and Practice.

THE STRUCTURE OF A QUALITY SALES CALL

PRE-CALL


Making a quality sales call starts well before the first meeting with the client. It begins with target account identification, qualifying the account, arranging the account, and preparing and practicing the call. Preparation planning and practice mean payback in selling. Preparation, planning and practice is the non glamorous underbelly of selling. It is what most salespeople do not do. But it is what all successful salespeople do.

ARRIVAL

Before you leave for your appointment check five times to be sure you have everything you need to obtain your sales call objective. Always check your selling tools are safe and in working condition.

Arrive early. Sales people who are late for appointments either do not have a quality sales call appointment, or are under performers. If possible, survey the meeting area, particularly if it is a conference room. Take the best place check the projector and setup your tools.
After getting any agreement from a prospectus the sales person should always compliment the customer even if very quickly. After the customer agrees that the sales will only last 20 minute, the sales person says “OK,’ “FINE”, OR “GREAT”, or something similar to that.
The next question introduces the sales persons call objective, in terms of a benefit to a customer. For example: “Mr. John, the purpose of this meeting is to show you how you can reduce your overall maintenance cost in each section by 38% saving about $62000 per year… alright?

GET THE CUSTOMER TO OWN THE DECISION:


The next action is to get the customer to feel comfortable with the rest of the calls. Please do remember people can’t be sold, they must sell themselves. Similarly, it is very important to get an agreement from the customer, that he will make a buying decision.
To accomplish this salesperson should ask the following questions:

“Mr. John before I go on I would like you to agree on this proposal you are going to justify the facts and decide for yourself. Is that the way you see it? OR “Mr. John before we proceed I would like to get an understanding with you ok? If you can see the $62000 savings, would you then agree to try a test?

This is one of the most important commitments you can get in the sales call. When a customer agrees to justify the facts and to decide for himself he will have to disagree with himself to reject a presentation that proves the big benefit question.

If you sow and prove that you can reduce maintenance cost by 38% and save $62000, then the customer has to agree. To not agree to the proposal means he cannot justify the facts. Most customers don’t like to make such a negative self admission.

NEEDS ASSESSMENTS

People buy for only 2 reasons: To feel good or to solve a problem. They will buy the solutions to a problem either to avoid loss or for some gain. Your job is to find out which benefits of your products will make your customer feel good and / or solve a problem, or both. The best technique to determine the customer’s unmet needs is to ask pre-planned questions and listen to the answers. Ask the customer what he likes about, what he is using now. Then ask what he dislikes. Keep asking about what he dislikes, or what he would like if everything were perfect. Continue to probe for business and personal needs by using the questions outlined in the “First Sales Call” section.

Continuing the presentation showing something that helps the customer visually experience the benefits of your products. Tell the customer what’s in it for him. Always use questions. Involve, remind you using high involvement questions to get the customer actively engaged in your presentation. Close the sale OR get a commitment to your sales call objective which must be an action that leads directly to sale.

CONCLUDING THE CALL:


After you have received an agreement for the commitment, congratulate the customer, e.g., “ good move.” Then be sure to clarify your next step, whatever is needed. This will usually be some sort of post call follow up such as providing delivery information or organizing the product test. This next step must always be promptly and accurately completed.
Then, thank the customer and exit gracefully. After you have received your desired commitment, stop talking, stop your presentation, pack up your slides, fold up your all tools and do not continue selling.

It is after the commitment that the salesperson can engage in the type of chit chat that most sales people do at the beginning of a sales call. This can help relieve the healthy tension that is often a part of a quality sales call… for both customer and sales person.

THE STRUCTURE OF A QUALITY SALES CALL

PRE-CALL….


Identify Target, Quality account, Pre-visit homework, Plan the Phone Call or letter to get appointment, Arrange appointment with decision maker and fill out your pre-call planning form.

ARRIVAL…

Check Selling Materials/tools, Appearance, Punctuality, Survey Meeting Area and Source of Useful information area.

OPENING…



Opening question, Call Objective as Big Benefit Question and Get agreement to commitment.

NEEDS ASSESSMENTS…


Likes with present method, Dislike with present method, Business needs, Personal needs, other decision maker’s needs, Cost of Problem/value of solution, Budget and Time table.

BIG S.T.I.C. PRESENTATION…


Show and Demo, Tell what is in it for him, Involve with questions, Turn objections to objectives, Close or Commit. (Show Tell Involve Commit)

CONCLUDE…


Congratulate, Clarify next step, Thank Customer, Exit gracefully Fill your post call analysis form and Follow up.

IMPOSTOR SALES CALLS

SOCIAL CALLS

Socially Acceptable Name…a) Routine Call, b) Courtesy Call, c) Pick up the order, d) Cold Call, e) “In the Area Call”, f) Technical Service, g) Drop off Literature (mainly), h) Show Video only and i) Drop off a proposal.

Reality… a) Selling is not routine, b) Wasting a Customer’s time c) Order taking is not a selling, d) True decision makers do not meet cold callers, e) Impolite to visit without an appointment, f) If you give be sure to establish some get, g) Post office’s job, h) Theater job, i) Always present it in a formal sales call.

Whenever any sales person is planning to meet customer with prior appointment or a call received by customer to attend to the problem at customer place, it is now right time to him hit fast and get more technique asking following analysis questions. These questions will definitely create interest of the client and also help him to take good advantage of salespersons visit. This is also building up strong technical relation with customer on long term run. Further, such questions also makes salesperson to increase his confidence level and help him to get more benefits in terms of value or quantity.

Following are few example questions to proceed..

NEEDS ANALYSIS QUESTIONS TO ASK ON FIRST SALES CALLS


Help me understand your existing method
What do you make?
Where do you make them?
How many components do you make?
Do you have any experience with our company?
What is your job title and responsibility?
Why did you call us?
Who else besides yourself will be involved?
When can you give me a plant visit?
How do these parts go together?
Explain your process or assembly to me
What other alternatives are you evaluating?
What is it costing you to make the parts now?
What are your rejects?
What are your warranty claims?
Are your customers complaining?
What else have you tried?
What are your competitors doing?
What is the finished products worth?
What would you like to change? What are your expectations…2 years, etc?
How important is this project to you?
Why is this important to you?
What are the implications of not changing?
What is your schedule?
How many lines will you run?
Will you need training, plant seminar to get this going?
Are there any other areas we can look at while I am here?

KEY ACCOUNT PROFILE

You must maintain key customer’s profile always to document each everything particulars related to key accounts details. This would enable you to collect complete picture of your key account and also help you to maintain long term business relation with key account. Apart from this, this also gives special image identification among your colleagues and other employees.

Company will motivate such employees with award and reward and put more business responsibilities and decision making authorities on you featuring you as one of the management level. Following are few tips given how to retain and maintain key customer and grow business simply.

KEY ACCOUNT WORKSHEET



Name of the customer with all necessary contact information.
No. of decision makers and No. of departments with name and contacts details.
Describe the best transaction you had with the customer.
Describe the least or worst transaction you had with the customer.
When was the last time you raised prices? How high? What happened?
How did you get the account?
Where is the business going?
Detail your customer’s customer.
Strength and benefits of your customer’s products and services.
How your customer goes to market?
How does your customer view their marketplace?
Your customer’s business goal.
Your customer’s business strength and weaknesses.
Your customer’s strategies.
Have you been to plant survey?.
What was it like?
How is your contact people measured?
Your customer’s policies and philosophies.
The key players in the buying cycle.
Who report to whom…..? Show organization chart.
Basic business background of your key customer contacts.
Describe the customer’s contacts personalities?
How your customer contacts like to do business?
What commitment did you get?
What is it costing the customer to go without your solution/products?
What practical demo did you use and what was the customer’s response?
What is your objective for the next call?
What follow up actions are necessary?
What company resources, people or homework must you organize before your next call?
What is the date of your next call?
Did you document properly?
What can you do better on your next call on this key account?
Timing Factors.
Your customers key events and dates, trade shows, product launches, Ad campaigns and contract deadlines etc.
Your customer’s ideal buying cycle- budget time, fiscal year and decision time.
The chronological steps in the purchase cycle.
What and when are the ideal calling times?.
Customer’s contacts vacation schedules.
What is the length of an average sales call?
How difficult is to get an appointment.
What your customer wants the most, business and personal.
The customer support people.
Contacts secretary's’ name
Describe their top executives.
What is their top executive are personal goals?
What are their top executive area business goals?
Selling Strategy.
What realistic plans do you have for future business and why?
Key products Investments Return Analysis.
Customer service value files (total value incurred by you on services)
What is costing customer to go without your product?
Who are your competitors from whom he also buys and why?
What is your key weakness with this account?
What is your key strength- your competitive advantage in this account?
Buyer’s objections to you
What are their critical needs you can profitably fill?
What is the customer’s long term goal on production rate, export, extension plant, changes in top level etc?
Collect ll important necessery information about customer as much as possible well in advance. Read few tips on basic requirements before sales call
    Download or see a Demo of a sample format of Pre-Call and Post-Call Planning Worksheet of a salesperson below.
    This is very simple and contains basic information as how to plan for Pre-Call and Post-Call: